DeSantis’ management of COVID is a disaster


Listen to Governor Ron DeSantis’ own description of his pandemic priorities, and you’ll get this message: Money comes first.

He intends to keep Florida’s economy going, even as hospital intensive care units fill up with patients. More patients than ever, in fact. Younger than those of previous waves. The number of deaths has also started to climb.

But we stopped buying rationale from the governor. It seems obvious that his own personal ambitions – amplified by the loud but shrinking crowd of supporters who have made a political cause to downplay the impacts of COVID and demean scientists – are under control.

And that explains a lot.

Because we wondered when DeSantis’ stubborn refusal to value these lives would erode. How long would it take for the fear, anger and grief of the Floridians to shatter his arrogance. Certainly, he would eventually realize that Florida’s economy will suffer lasting damage if COVID takes over as it threatens to do.

At the very least, we expected that at some point he would understand that if Florida were to become a viral disaster zone under his watch, it could thwart his own thirst for a higher political office.

We are losing hope. Consider the events of the past week:

From July 23 to 29, Florida reported 10,785 new COVID infections in school-aged children. On July 30, DeSantis issued an order invoking a parent’s “right to choose” to send them to school without masks. Districts that challenged him were threatened with loss of funding. Some school boards – including Alachua, Duval and Broward Districts – have adopted mask mandates for the first few weeks of school anyway. We hope other local school officials follow suit and honor the most important right of parents in Florida: to know their children are safe.

Florida learned last week that one in five new COVID cases in the United States originated in that state. DeSantis should have shown some concern, especially after President Joe Biden called him and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for their lack of response to the growing numbers. Instead, DeSantis offered a rambling stream of snapbacks, including a brooding statement that he didn’t want to “hear a blip about COVID” from Biden, and accusing the president of trying to “requisition the rights and freedoms of Floridians “.

Governor Ron DeSantis.

He also gave credit to one of the dumbest claims by COVID deniers, blaming Florida’s surge in the lethal variant of the Delta on COVID-infested people “crossing” the southern border into the United States. . It’s just ridiculous, Governor, and you know it – your own policies are a much bigger threat.

On Wednesday, he met with a select group of Florida hospital officials who have tried – quite diplomatically – to convey the pressure they are under. Hospitals in Florida are postponing surgeries and scrambling to find enough staff to take care of the patients who continue to arrive. Still, the governor insists that Florida hospitals are doing well.

It is clear, at this point, who the governor is listening to. It is not following trend lines that show COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths are steadily increasing. (Florida reported 22,783 new cases of COVID on Friday, its largest day-on-day increase on record.) It is not listening to its own public health officials or hospital leaders, who warn the system of Florida’s health is on the verge of collapsing. He fails to understand the malaise of the business community and the state’s tourism executives, who fear that a reckless disregard for public health will damage Florida’s reputation and ability to grow its business in the long run. economy.

Instead, he’s obsessed with playing the hero to the body of reality-rejecting far-right activists, ready to fuel ignorance and foment division no matter what life it costs. He has willfully trapped himself in an echo chamber, believing that explosive anti-science rhetoric and false narratives of “freedom” will propel him to greater political heights.

And thanks to a bill passed this year by the Legislature, the governor has almost unlimited power to enforce his will. Have lawmakers predicted how many illnesses and deaths DeSantis would be willing to overlook?

DeSantis says he’s protecting the economy: money over lives.

But as things go downhill in Florida, an even more brutal equation emerges – one that puts DeSantis’ political ambitions above Florida’s health and economy.

We have said it before, and it bears repeating: God help us. Because the governor won’t.

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